I was standing in a line four people deep at McDonalds, watching a fly buzz around the sweaty neck of the man in front of me, waiting to pay far too much money for a wilted Caesar salad, when I thought, “This is the stuff no one mentions when they say weight loss is hard.”
Fifteen minutes earlier I had been at my desk at work, feeling the beginnings of three o’clock hunger pangs, when I realized I hadn’t packed a snack in my lunch bag. Damn it! Why hadn’t I brought more cauliflower? There was no way I was going to make it another two hours to the end of the work day and then another 30 minutes driving home. I needed food. My easiest options were to grab a slice of yet another apple pie my coworkers had brought to work or to grab something from the vending machine, but I had vowed to stop sabotaging myself so I kept the lid on the pie and my quarters in my change purse. We don’t have one of those fancy South Beach Diet vending machines in my building, sadly enough. When I’ve forgotten to bring snacks to work before, I just ordered up a grilled chicken salad from the pub/restaurant downstairs, however they closed up shop last month. I don’t know what drove them out of business, the lousy food or the lousy service, but they’re gone now and they took their chopped lettuce with them.
So, I needed to find something healthy and nearby and hopefully cheap. Ha! I haven’t seen any roasted vegetable vendors on the street corners lately, so I was left with the three closest fast food restaurants: Hardees, White Castle, and McDonalds. Checking their web sites I found that the only salad Hardees served was a Southwest Chicken salad that didn’t look all that healthy. I’m also not fond of Hardees’ ads which are all about how manly, men must eat big, thick burgers, grrr, and they should walk up to a cow and bite it in the ass and chew its raw hind quarters to prove their manly, manliness. I clicked on White Castle’s site and found that they don’t even bother putting a half-way healthy item on their menu. No salads or wraps, just burgers and fried onion rings. I sort of admire that about them. No pandering, no bullshit. You came here for grease and cheese and we will give it to you.
So, McDonalds it was with their half dozen salad selections.After the documentary Supersize Me came out, I think they’ve made an effort to at least appear as though the have healthy options. I didn’t have any cash on me and I wasn’t sure if I could use my credit card at the drive-through, so I walked inside to discover one 4’11” cashier running one register with four people waiting in line ahead of me. Wasn’t this supposed to be fast food?
I waited in line for six minutes and was nearly toppled to the ground by a three-year-old who pushed past me to get to the drink machine. She sure was strong for a kiddo who eats McDonalds. I placed my order at the counter and started to slide my credit card through the machine, feeling ridiculous that I was putting a $4.19 charge on plastic when –
“DON’T SLIDE YOU CARD YET!!” the woman behind the counter shouted over the constant beeping of the deep fryer. I could barely see her head behind the register but I sure could hear her voice. “Wait until I’m done entering the order!” she demanded.
“Sorry!” I apologized, snatching my card away from the credit card machine that had come unbolted from the stand and was sliding onto the counter. My order came up two minutes later and I nearly ran back to the parking lot, out of horror or hunger I’m not sure. I popped the lid off in the car and gazed upon a truly uninspiring salad. The chicken breast was slimy and not even cut all the way through, leaving me to tear away at it like perforated paper. It laid in a trampled bed of lettuce and carrot slices, garnished with two little baby tomatoes. It was not fast. It was barely food. It was definitely not worth $4.19. But I ate it anyway and I stuck to my plan. And then I added cauliflower to the top of my shopping list.